Having no access to pools in 2020 was tough and we really missed the competitive side of water polo. There’s so much about the game that you can only learn from competing and thankfully 2021 allowed us to go back into the water and shine.
In this post Sue Seagroatt, manager of our junior water polo section based at Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Centre (SLC), shares a round up of the competitive opportunities that our players from Hillingdon Penguin were able to enjoy in autumn 2021.
London Water Polo League
It was a relief when the LWPL resumed and it was a privilege to host the first U14 and U16 Junior tournaments at Hillingdon SLC. None of this would have been possible without Chris Martin and Paul Bryan and the many hours they spend organising tournaments.
Swim England Development Tournament
Our newest Hillingdon Penguin players were fortunate to have the chance to compete in a Swim England development tournament where they gained vital knowledge of the game.
Inter County Championships
As you can read in a previous post some of our players were able to compete in the Inter County Championships, both mixed and girls in November. The mixed team narrowly missed out on a bronze medal. The girls played valiantly to take 2nd place.
Bailey and Hadi were selected to compete in Walsall for the London team playing in Division 1 at the U16 Boys Inter regionals on 27 and 28 November 2021. This was an amazing opportunity to experience water polo competition at this level.
U16 Boys Inter Regional Championships
The restart of competition meant a call up for regional selection in September. Four Hillingdon boys, Avi Juneja, Bailey Sapsed, Sam Wood, and Riaz Garnie, were successful and have since been training with London Regional Academy for 2007s.
Bailey said, ‘I found it a really worthwhile and an exciting experience. I learnt a lot. I felt privileged to be there.’
Under 16 Girls Inter Regional Championships
A huge well done to the four Hillingdon Penguin girls who were selected for training at the inter regional academy: Thalia Ross, Lize Crone, Órlaith Graham and Sophie Wilkinson.
Lize, Órlaith and Sophie were selected to compete for London in the U16s Girls Inter Regionals on 4 and 5 December in Walsall, playing in Division 2.
The girls had a really great tournament. The first day was the tougher of the two, when London lost their first game against West Midlands 7-17 and their second game against South West Sharks was a narrow loss (7-8) after conceding a goal in the final second of play to the eventual winners of Division 2.
The team came out fighting on the second day with two emphatic wins, against East Midlands 10:4 and Wales 22-2. They should be really proud of themselves.
Overall, the team came third in Division 2 and Sophie was awarded Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament for London.
Órlaith said, ‘It was an amazing experience and a lot of fun. It really helped us come together as a team as this was the first time we’d played matches together. We became stronger with every game we played. It was interesting to watch the Division 1 games as it helped me see and take on board the differences in how they played. The entire experience has helped me develop my view of the game and how I play and how I can improve. I’m very grateful that I was chosen to represent London and am thankful to have had an amazing team and coaches to take me there.’
Lize said, ‘I enjoyed the competition a lot as I got the chance to play different positions (in goal and outfield) and the opportunity to bond more with the other girls on the team. I also learnt a lot about tactics and strategy.’
Thank you for the coaching
All these Hillingdon Penguin players are very grateful to Shaun who puts so much energy into coaching them every week and went to support them at coaching sessions and tournaments in Croydon and in Walsall. They would also like to thank Aram Eidipour, Marcus and Tim Kendall for the Academy coaching.
What coming for 2022?
We are thrilled that Riaz Garnie and Sam Wood have been invited to trials for the National Academy in January 2022. We wish them all the best.
We are looking forward to the first outings for our U12 and U18 teams in the LWPL. And good luck to the U14 and U16 teams as they go into their second tournaments.
Hillingdon Penguin U16 girls will also be competing in LWPL in March, another exciting first for the Hillingdon section of the Club as we’ve never entered a girls’ team before.
Hillingdon Penguin runs alongside our Latymer water polo section for juniors. Find out more about playing junior water polo with us.